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How can I perform an unattended install of Windows Server 2008? Is there an answer file mechanism? Is it possible to load the answer file automatically from the network or include it in the ISO?

I'm mostly going to use this in a virtualization environment, but I really don't want to build any RIS infrastructure.

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Using 2003 and 2008 it's really easy to deploy WDS and lay down a new image in about 15-30 minutes depending on your hardware. I did it at home just to make it easier for me to create VM's and redeploy my developer desktop. – Aaron Weiker Jun 25 '09 at 7:17
up vote 2 down vote accepted

It looks to be the same as a Vista Unattended installation (see From what I can see you're basically building an answer file and then booting a WindowsPE environment and starting setup with that answer file specified.

Microsoft makes a big to-do of the automated installation kit (AIK) infrastructure, but it looks like you can get by w/ a lot less than that:

Some addt'l reference:

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I wanted to post your second link, too, but the link it contains to a sample answer file is broken. – Massimo Jun 24 '09 at 19:56
That's true. Their command-line, though, to start the unattended install is accurate and not as easy to find in Microsoft documentation. – Evan Anderson Jun 24 '09 at 20:11

The tools are basically the same used for unattended Vista setups.

You need to create an answer file called "autounattend.xml" and put it on the installation media, or on an USB key to be plugged in when the Windows setup starts.

About the file itself... well, it can get quite complex.

Here is some reference:

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In addition to the links on top, here are some others that might come useful:

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For what you want to do you want to use the WAIK kit. Simply using and unattend.txt file wil probably not be enough for deploying to a virtual environment. The WAIK kit will allow you to create images and create unattend.xml files for deployment. If you are doing alot of builds in a virutal envionment I'd take a look at building a windows deployment services environment. This will allow you to use the virtual network to deploy and maintain custom builds with relativly little effort. Another option is to use sysprep on your images. Sysprep is now included in the base OS install. The command to run is: sysprep /generalize /oobe /shutdown /unattend:sysprep.xml

sysprep docs are here

See Also Unattended Server 2008 Base Image Creation using WSIM/Sysprep

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